My Pandemic Diary, Entry #10

A flowering tree in New York City, April 2, 2020.

My Pandemic Diary, Entry #10

Hello Fellow City Cooks,

I’m making a change in how I am doing this diary. After today, I will no longer be sending it out directly to readers but instead only publishing it on  The reason is that I’ve become aware of, and in some ways overwhelmed by, the volume of incoming special emails and messages about our crisis and I figure I’m not the only one feeling this way. Plus many of you are working at home all day and I know how this new work environment has expanded and increased all kinds of email and similar communications. There is lots of advice, too many memes, so many recipes, countless stories, and many are not useful or calming. I started my diary for myself but equally to be helpful to others and it defeats that purpose if it becomes annoying.

So not wanting to contribute to any overload, I’ve decided to put the diary in a place where it’s easy to find, but you’ll need to seek it out instead of my sending it to you. It will be right on the home page of Should there be something that I think merits it, I'll still be able to reach out to my mailing list and you can reach me through the contact link on the home page.

I’m hoping this change is consistent with my belief that what we all should be striving to do right now is find some quiet regularity in these irregular days because this, in turn, will help us be calmer, healthier, stronger, and more focused. Less distracted. More normal.

When Mark and I walk in the morning, we talk about all sorts of things and today he was telling me more about a class he is taking (now on Zoom) in Renaissance art and how today’s class would include the invention of perspective. He said the word “perspective” first meant to have a spatial outlook, but its use evolved to mean being able to see things from a distance, as in art, and then to also mean the ability to have a mental point-of-view over time.

It made us both think of where we are now, and how despite our best efforts, it is probably impossible to have perspective, to understand and reckon with what we are experiencing, all this terrible fear and chaos, until we have some distance. And that will take time. Until then, and right now, all we can do is try to make each day the best it can be.  For me, that includes making dinner.

Cooking and Groceries

As I noted in yesterday’s diary, last night’s dinner included an Ina Garten recipe for pasta with broccoli and lemon. It was the first time I had made it and I give it five stars, thumbs up, a rave for its flavor and ease to make. I used four bunches of broccoli, using only the florets, and less pasta because we are trying to not eat too much pasta during this time. I saved the stems for when I make minestrone which I’ll do next week. Broccoli is one of those vegetables that can last a long while in the refrigerator and they’ll add both flavor and nutrients to the soup. Going back to Ina Garten’s recipe, if you have frozen broccoli, not fresh, I think this dish would also work really well.

Tonight we will have cod fish which I bought and froze on Tuesday morning after my grocery run.  I’ll simply cut the defrosted fish into large pieces, dry them off, dust each in seasoned flour and sauté them in a mix of butter and olive oil for a couple of minutes per side until lightly browned and cooked through. I have the last of some cherry tomatoes, which have amazingly (or perhaps disturbingly) lasted for nearly two weeks so that prompts me to make a box of Near East tabouli (which is so nice with fish) with the tomatoes plus thick slices of mini cucumbers. If this sounds familiar that's because this is a vegetable-dominant side dish that’s in my regular rotation. I’ll serve that on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce which I don’t usually buy but my husband mistakenly got it from the sidewalk produce stand thinking it was a cabbage (an easy mistake to make) and I don’t want to waste it.

Last night I made the dough for a loaf of No-Knead bread (or as Mark calls it, my needless bread) it’s been doing its thing for about 16 hours as I write this.  Once I publish this diary entry, I’ll put it in the oven and hope to show you tomorrow how it turned out. I know it’s healthier to eat whole grain bread but I miss having croutons and I’ll soon need breadcrumbs so that’s where today’s loaf will mostly go.

I’ll be here if you choose to read my writing and cooking tips and I will continue to post mid-day.  Thank you for continuing to take this journey with me.

Stay safe and have a nice dinner.

Kate McDonough






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